Managing mobile mayhem
The complexity associated with mobile strategies is well recognised within the IT industry, and has spawned a bunch of new companies and products designed to help CIOs get back on top.
For Super Retail Group’s general manager of group information services, Alan Hesketh, taking control of the organisation’s mobile strategy has involved bringing in the Afaria mobile device management suite from SAP company, Sybase.
Super Retail Group is the owner of brands including Super Cheap Auto and Ray’s Outdoors, and operates more than 400 stores across Australia and New Zealand. The company employs more than 5000 staff, about 150 of whom are highly mobile.
Hesketh says the company began deploying iPhones in October 2010, replacing feature phones and some BlackBerrys. The group uses the handsets as both smartphones and wireless modems when tethered to laptops.
“What we were finding was that the current generation of smartphones allowed us to improve those people’s productivity quite dramatically — to be able to give them immediate access to e-mail and other information,” Hesketh says.
“And using the iPhones, we have almost no support calls. We’re seeing the team out there being more productive just because they are having less problems due to modern, user-friendly tools.”
He says using Afaria enables him to centrally control security and access policies across the devices and to know the location of every device.
“If somebody loses the phone we can either find it or wipe it.”
The use of Afaria also matches well to Super Retail Group’s use of SAP as a corporate application platform.
“We are running quite a lot of projects this year around multichannel customer service, and within those projects there are a number of things that will reach out to those mobile workers,” Hesketh says.
“We’ve not yet decided whether we’ll be doing specific app development for the iPhone, or deploying SAP and related partners’ iPhone apps.”
In-depth: How to create a successful mobile project.
Device agnosticism also played a strong role in deciding to choose Afaria as a management tool.
“As handsets and tablets evolve, Afaria’s management capabilities are going to evolve with that,” Hesketh says.
“So we are going to be able to continue to use that same infrastructure without actually having to worry too much about what the users actually want to use. And it’s interesting to discover the number of iPads that are attached to our network through Afaria.
"It is giving us that degree of visibility and control that we wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.